First REAL vacation at universal

Discussion in 'Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure Forums' started by nicynot, Mar 13, 2018.

  1. nicynot

    nicynot Mouseketeer

    Jun 6, 2013
    who’s got pointers for me? I know wdw like the back of my hand (like the rest of us here do), but I’m going to be a bit lost I think on the universal part.
    I’ve been there during two other vacations, but just as day trips.

    My plan will be to do three days at Disney from nov 28th and departing Saturday morning the 1st to head to universal. The plan is to stay at the new aventura hotel from December 1st and leaving Wednesday the 5th.
    I will be using my airmiles to get a three park, three day hopper and then I will buy an additional day for four days in total.
    Should be 4 groups of couples all in different rooms.
    I know it’s christmas time, but I can’t find precious schedules for this time of year..
    Help a person out!
    Thanks in advance!
  2. pattyw

    pattyw DIS Veteran

    Feb 7, 2008
    You have allotted four park days which is wonderful! You won't have express passes staying at Aventura, but with that many days you should be fine! Take advantage of early entry. Doing the Harry potter rides then will help. We find that the lines are also short right before park close. At Universal, you don't have to pre- plan much which is very relaxing! Most restaurants are fine with walk up- we like Mythos at IOA- we'll usually make a reservation in the morning for lunch that day. It saves us from waiting as a walk up. Keep reading this board-there's a wealth of information- I learned so much from the incredible posters here!
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  4. GoldmanTrust

    GoldmanTrust Mouseketeer

    Jun 4, 2017
    So 8 adults. Should be no problem getting every ride done multiple times. I have not done the parks at this exact time of year. A few years back I did four adults in the parks around new years (much busier time) and it was no sweat at all.

    It just depends on how you want your trip to be. I would not suggest planning to much. I will see by the end of day one that you can relax and enjoy the parks at your pace and get everything done. If you are early risers, do Early entry and get the Potter stuff done by the time most people go there. Download the app to see wait times. Be flexible, be aware of what rides you want to do.

    Some things that I love in the parks, that I would recommend for adults:

    1. Get a few drinks at Moe's. I'm a huge Simpsons fan, so that's one of the things I love to do.

    2. ET is an awesome ride. Don't miss out on that. It brings you back to the 90's.

    3. If anyone in the group is scared of coasters, I would do The Mummy first. It's a "gateway" coaster in my mind. Love it.

    4. I love showing up early and hitting Starbucks. That first cup of coffee when the parks are "waking up" is lovely.

    5. Mythos is a great place to eat at. There are also a ton of good restaurants in Citywalk. I also love eating in the Simpsons world.

    6. Don't sleep on the shows (Horror Make Up show, Sinbad, Poseidon's fury and the others). It is a great way to sit down and relax for a bit.

    7. I love that spots around the parks have beer on draft :)

    8. Try to go to King Kong and Jurassic Park at night. LOVELY.

    And there is a ton of other stuff. You don't need a detailed minute by minute planning. You will be staying next to Cabana Bay, furthest away from the parks of the hotels. Walking shouldn't be a problem, it's probably quicker than the bus. You can also walk to Sapphire Falls, go down stairs and use the water taxis.

    A little tip from me as well: Volcano bay is AWESOME. It has great food (even though they made the menus simpler a couple of months after the parks opened), great cocktails, great slides and the vibe is just the best. I love being there. Relaxing reggae music and everything just so nice. You will be close to VB. I would try to go there for one day (if you have 3 park tickets). If I was there in an adult only vacation I would probably spend most of my time in VB :)
    nicynot likes this.
  5. nicynot

    nicynot Mouseketeer

    Jun 6, 2013
    Thanks guys!! I like the idea of not having to over plan this portion!
    Thanks for the tip of walking to sapphire falls and grabbing a water taxi! Great idea!
    I realize that the new hotel will not get us express pass, but I'll see how we feel once there and maybe get it once there. Hoping that it will not be too cold that week, I'm nit a fan of water slides, but the two rivers in VB look fun!!

    Anyone been during early December and experience the Christmas festivities? I realize they only revamped it last year.
  6. VacaPlanner2012

    VacaPlanner2012 Mouseketeer

    Aug 27, 2011
    Early December is awesome! In the past, the crowds are very manageable, families with kids are usually doing Thanksgiving weekend or Christmas Break, so there is a sweet spot in between.

    As mentioned, no major planning for a four day trip. Look at the park maps to familiarize, then look at the food/menu sticky to get your mind around eating options. No need for reservations months out, but having an idea going in helps. We always stay at Royal Pacific, so getting to Citywalk is so easy, not sure what Aventura's journey to the central hub of Citywalk will be like, but I am sure it is very manageable.

    I would approach Day 1 as a "get your feet wet" day, walk the parks casually, ride some rides, see some shows, and make note of where Grinchmas activities/parades are being held. Just get familiar.

    One more tip for dining - don't overlook the other hotels food options. Sushi at Royal Pacific is fantastic, Pizza at Sal's (Portofino Bay) is a must for us. Very good to great restaurants at the other hotels, as well as Citywalk and the parks.

    Our family is tied to the academic calendar (2 kids/athletics/wife works in schools), or we would have an annual trip in early December, best time of year for us. 5 days in early December 2013 was our favorite trip. For what it's worth, we are Uni veterans and had an extra day, but we took Mears to Mickey's Christmas Party and also spent a half day at Sea World for their Christmas shows, in addition to the Grinchmas fun at Universal, it made for a wonderful holiday celebration for us.
  7. Kivara

    Kivara DIS Veteran

    Jan 14, 2015
    Single rider line is a quick option if you don't mind being split up!
    You could have one person get a preferred annual pass, to get the discounts on food/merch.
  8. wookiebeck

    wookiebeck Fan of both WDW and USO

    Jul 26, 2011
    My advice given that you have enough time to do everything is to try to enjoy what there is to offer in food. We love Mythos and Confisco Grill. Have done Dogfish and both Harry Potter counter service places. All were fun, delicious and not too crazy on the wallet. Best of all, you won't have to book 90 days in advance.
  9. Arbond

    Arbond Explorer & Sharer

    Mar 18, 2018
    Like Kivara said, learn how to use the Single Rider lane. With so many of the rides, it really doesn't matter if you are sitting right next to a friend, or family member. On some of them, you can't even see the person next to you. So it doesn't matter if you are sitting "together". (now, on some rides, yes, but many, no).

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